CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 9 what
What we talk about most is what we think about most. Then our feelings enter into our discussions, too. Feelings “of the day” jade what we believe and might be confusing to what others have heard us say we believe. Our body language also adds to the mix. So, what are we talking about? Does our behavior match what we say we believe?
 
Mark 9 whoSome people come to an event, place of worship, grocery store, place of work, anywhere and talk about others behind their backs in order to show their listeners how much greater they are than the persons they are talking about. It makes us feel more powerful, “in the know”, for about a nano second.
 
mark-9-again.jpg
In today’s world, we are blatantly talking about others in their presence with ribbing, hurtful joking about their mess ups, along with teasing unmercifully about childish mistakes in their past. We all do it. No one can deny this sin called gossip. We are also overly sensitive to what others are saying, assuming a personal affront when their words could be a cry for help. Either way, when we step on someone else to rise above them or fight back, we have failed.
 
Jesus teaches that to be the greatest we must be the last in line, helping others get in the line for His salvation…and be okay with that, laying all personal “feelings” aside. Jesus is on our side but he is also on the side of everyone else, too.
 
Matthew 16 PeterJesus takes his disciples for a walk in the country, avoiding the crowds, so he can teach them. Unfortunately, these young followers are so full of themselves, that they are missing the main point of the first discussion while arguing over who will be sitting next to Jesus in His Kingdom.
 
Do we do that? Yep, I’m afraid so.
 
Mark 9 mouthOh be careful little eyes what you see?
 
Oh be careful little ears what you hear?
 
Oh be careful little mouth what you say?
For the Father up above is looking down in love…
 
Remember this song of our childhood? Come with childlike faith but don’t behave in childish ways. Welcome all in Jesus Name. We all in this together. Let us serve each other well, helping each other…in Jesus Name.
 
No, what are we talking about? Imagine Jesus coming to us and asking, “What were you discussing?”
 
Mark 9, NLT
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
Mark 6 telling30 Leaving that region, they traveled through Galilee. Jesus didn’t want anyone to know he was there, 31 for he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and teach them. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.” 32 They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
 
The Greatest in the Kingdom
Mark 9 little child33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”
 
36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
After they heard what Jesus had said about His own suffering and death, you would think they would have forgotten their own selfish plans and concentrated on Him. Perhaps the fact that Peter, James, and John had gone on the mount with Jesus had added some fuel to the fires of competition.
 
To teach them (and us) a lesson on honor, Jesus set a child before them and explained that the way to be first is to be last, and the way to be last is to be the servant of all. The unspoiled child is an example of submission and humility. A child knows he is a child and acts like a child, and that is his secret of attracting love and care. The child who tries to impress us by acting like an adult does not get the same attention.
 
Mark 9 greatnessTrue humility means knowing yourself, accepting yourself, being yourself—your best self—and giving of yourself for others. The world’s philosophy is that you are “great” if others are working for you, but Christ’s message is that greatness comes from our serving others.
 
Since the words child and servant are the same in the Aramaic language, it is easy to see why Jesus connected the two. If we have the heart of a child, we will have little difficulty being servants, and if we have the attitude of servants, we will welcome the children as the representatives of Jesus Christ and the Father.
 
God is on our side! You and me. Is that what we are talking about most?
 
Pause once more and imagine Jesus coming to us and asking, “What were you discussing?” He already knows our hearts.
 
Mark 9 35Dear Father, Savior and Lord,
We repent of talking of things that are meaningless, hurtful and unnecessary in our lives of serving You. We repent of assuming others talk about us in the same ways. Deliver us from this evil. Help us to think higher, nobler thoughts of each other as we work together to help people find and follow you, too. No one is greater than anyone else in Your Kingdom. You alone are great! Continue to chisel off the rough edges of our personalities and transform us to be all you want us to be. You are God and we are not. We believe in You. We need you every hour.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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NOT IF…BUT WHEN

Mark – God is On Our Side!
Mark 9 help my faithWhen pushed to the emotional edge of adversity that breeds fear and doubt, our best and most honest prayer is, “Jesus, help my unbelief.” We come to Jesus in troubles, hanging on to a small thread, because we have faith to some degree, but when pushed to the wall, we cry out for help in desperation. This desperation comes after trying everything and everyone else. Maybe we think He isn’t listening.
 
We are sometimes very much like the exasperated father who longs for his boy to be safe and well, rid of all his demons. We want an end to what is beyond our control and “fix” so we cry out to the Father and pray the same pray. “If it is your will…” “If you can…” Jesus doesn’t like “IF”.
 
Jesus refines this anxious father’s prayer with these words, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
 
The father of the boy immediately understands what Jesus is saying. ““I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
 
We all pray this from time to time when we feel God is not answering our prayer when we want and how we want it to be answered. Help me to overcome my unbelief, Lord. I know you are on my side!
 
Mark 9, NLT
Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy
 
Mark 9 faith14 When they returned to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd surrounding them, and some teachers of religious law were arguing with them. 15 When the crowd saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with awe, and they ran to greet him.
 
16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.
 
17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
 
19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
 
20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.
 
21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.
 
He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”
 
23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
 
24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
 
25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
 
26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.
 
28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”
 
29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”
 
GOING DEEPER….
 
Mark 9 helpThe Christian life is “a land of hills and valleys” (Deut. 11:11). In one day, a disciple can move from the glory of heaven to the attacks of hell. When our Lord and His three friends returned to the other nine disciples, they found them involved in a dual problem: they were unable to deliver a boy from demonic control, and the scribes were debating with them and perhaps even taunting them because of their failure. As always, it was Jesus who stepped in to solve the problem.
 
The boy was both deaf and dumb (Mark 9:17, 25), and the demon was doing his best to destroy him. Imagine what it would be like for that father to try to care for the boy and protect him! Jesus had given His disciples authority to cast out demons (Mark 6:7, 13), and yet their ministry to the boy was ineffective. No wonder the Lord was grieved with them! How often He must be grieved with us when we fail to use the spiritual resources He has graciously given to His people!
 
Since the disciples had failed, the desperate father was not even sure that Jesus could succeed; hence his statement, “If you can do anything” (Mark 9:22 nasb). However, the father was honest enough to admit his own unbelief and to ask the Lord to help him and his son. Jesus did cast out the demon and restore the boy to his father.
 
The main lesson of this miracle is the power of faith to overcome the enemy (Mark 9:19, 23–24; and see Matt. 17:20). Why had the nine disciples failed? Because they had been careless in their personal spiritual walk and had neglected prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). The authority that Jesus had given them was effective only if exercised by faith, but faith must be cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion. It may be that the absence of their Lord, or His taking the three disciples with Him and leaving them behind, had dampened their spiritual fervor and diminished their faith. Not only did their failure embarrass them, but it also robbed the Lord of glory and gave the enemy opportunity to criticize. It is our faith in Him that glorifies God (Rom. 4:20).
 
Mark 9 prayerDear Lord,
You have helped me through times of unbelief, asking “if, instead of when” many times in my life. In the valley’s our faith is tested and I have seen you work in powerful ways beyond my wildest dreams. You always do more than I can ask or imagine. When evil comes to plant thoughts in my mind not of you, you deliver me when I call on your power for help in Your Name. I know you and know you want the best for us. I believe in You because you loved me before I was born. I believe because you died for me so that I could be free. There is no reason to stop believing now. Thank you for helping me overcome my unbelief.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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WHEN GOD SPEAKS, LISTEN!

Mark – God is On Our Side!
Mark 9 listen in.jpgYears ago there was a commercial that ran consistently about a trusted brokerage firm. It became so popular that comics used it in skits. Everyone knew the tag line. EF Hutton was an American stock brokerage firm founded in 1904 by Edward Francis Hutton and his brother, Franklyn Laws Hutton. Later, it was led by well known Wall Street trader Gerald M. Loeb. Under their leadership, EF Hutton became one of the most respected financial firms in the United States and for several decades was the second largest brokerage firm in the country.
 
Their commercial ended with, “When EF Hutton speaks, people listen.” The scene would show a busy, noisy, crowded place such as a restaurant. When someone from EF Hutton began to speak to a “client”, all the racket stopped, voices were silent so they hear what he had to say.
 
Mark 9 what did you say
IF ONLY, people today would stop talking and doing, be still and lean in to hear what God has to say, the world would take on new direction with greater purpose. Revolutionary, right? Lean in and hear what Jesus, Son of God, has to say to his disciples who are trying hard to understand. God is on our side. We need to listen to Him.
 
Mark 9, NLT
Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!”
 
Mark 9 gloryThe Transfiguration
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.
 
5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
 
Mark 9 my son
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.
 
9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
 
11 Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
 
12 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
 
GOING DEEPER…(With the help of Warren Wiersbe)
 
It takes faith to accept and practice this lesson on discipleship, so six days later, the Lord gave a dazzling proof that God indeed does transform suffering into glory. (Luke’s “about eight days” is inclusive of the day of the lesson and the day of the glory, Luke 9:28.) He took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain (it may have been Mount Hermon), and there He revealed His glory. This event was a vivid confirmation of His words as recorded in Mark 8:38 as well as a demonstration of the glory of the future kingdom (Mark 9:1; John 1:14; 2 Peter 1:12–21). The message was clear: first the suffering, then the glory.
 
Mark 9 hearMoses represented the law and Elijah the prophets, both of which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25–27; Heb. 1:1–2). Moses had died and his body was buried, but Elijah had been raptured to heaven (2 Kings 2:11). When Jesus returns, He will raise the bodies of the saints who died and will rapture the living saints (1 Thess. 4:13–18). Jesus will one day establish His glorious kingdom and fulfill the many promises made through the prophets. Christ’s sufferings and death would not prevent God from establishing His kingdom; rather, by solving the sin problem in God’s world, the cross would help to make the kingdom possible.
 
The word transfigured describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. It is the opposite of “masquerade,” which is an outward change that does not come from within. Jesus allowed His glory to radiate through His whole being, and the mountaintop became a Holy of Holies! As you meditate on this event, keep in mind that He has shared this glory with us and promised us a glorious home forever (John 17:22–24). According to Romans 12:1–2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, believers today can experience this same transfiguration glory.
 
Peter’s suggestion reflects again human thinking and not divine wisdom. How wonderful it would be to stay on the mountaintop and bask in His glory! But discipleship means denying self, taking up a cross, and following Him, and you cannot do that and selfishly stay on the mount of glory. There are needs to be met in the valley below. If we want to share the glory of Christ on the mountaintop, we must be willing to follow Him into the sufferings of the valley below.
 
mark-9-listen-to-him.pngThe Father interrupted Peter’s speech and focused their attention, not on the vision, but on the Word of God: “Hear him!” The memory of visions will fade, but the unchanging Word abides forever. The glorious vision was not an end in itself; it was God’s way of confirming the Word (see 2 Peter 1:12–21).
 
Discipleship is not built on spectacular visions but on the inspired, unchanging Word of God. Nor do we put Moses, Elijah, and Jesus on the same level, as Peter hinted. It is “Jesus only”—His Word, His will, His kingdom, and His glory. The three men were not allowed to tell the other nine what they had seen on the mount. No doubt their explanation after His resurrection brought great encouragement to the believers who themselves would experience suffering and death for His sake.
 
The disciples now understood God’s plan much better, but they were still confused about the coming of Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus made two facts clear. First, for those who had trusted in Him, this “Elijah” was John the Baptist, for John had indeed prepared the way before Him. John had denied that he was Elijah come from the dead (John 1:21, 25), but he did minister in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:16–17).
 
Second, there would be a future coming of Elijah, just as Malachi had predicted (Matt. 17:11), before the time of great tribulation. Some students connect this with Revelation 11:2–12. The nation did not accept John’s ministry. Had they received John, he would have served as the “Elijah” God sent, and they also would have received Jesus. Instead, they rejected both men and allowed them to be slain.
 
Mark 9 listen with ears to hear
When Jesus speaks to us, through His Holy Spirit, LISTEN to Him.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Thank you for Your Word. Thank you for loving us so generously, compassionately, and relentlessly. Thank you for speaking to our hearts, minds and souls as we pray for wisdom and guidance. Thank you for speaking to us with warnings and corrections so that we can avoid falling for what the world shouts so loudly. Thank you for times like this each morning to just go silent and listen to You speak. Thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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SURVEY SAYS…

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 8 most important
There are all kinds of surveys in the world that ask questions based on specific information surveyors are looking to find. . Some surveys ask questions in a way only to verify what the marketing surveyor is wanting to validate in the product they are selling. Some surveys want to find out about you and what you would be willing to buy based on your answers. Some surveys merely want your personal information. (So be careful with those “fun” activities on Facebook, friends!)
 
Some surveys are just silly and make for worldly entertainment…like the Family Feud game show. But ALL surveys are looking for human answers to their very human questions. George Barna, a believer who is a statistician, surveyed the American church in an effort to understand the level of belief among born again attenders. The results would blow you away! (Read “Think Like Jesus” for some of the results.)
 
But we are a bit surprised when the Son of God, Jesus Christ takes a survey among his disciples as they are walking along the countryside…“Who do people say I am?”
 
Mark 8, NLT
Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
 
Mark 8 who am I27 Jesus and his disciples left Galilee and went up to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
 
28 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.”
 
29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
 
Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”
 
30 But Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
 
Jesus Predicts His Death
31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.
 
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
 
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
 
GOING DEEPER….
 
Mark 8 29After the survey, Jesus then gets very personal with His devoted followers…“Who do YOU say I am?” PAUSE. Camp on this question and imagine Jesus standing in front of you asking you this same question.
 
Now, let’s get some background on this passage to help us understand more about why the question was asked so that more information could be given to them with real understanding.
 
A secret has been defined as “something you tell one person at a time.” From time to time, Jesus shared special “secrets” with His disciples, and three of them are given here. Believers today need to understand and apply these spiritual secrets if their own lives are to be all that God wants them to be.
 
Jesus had been preparing His disciples for this private meeting at which He intended to reveal to them what would happen to Him at Jerusalem. He had given hints along the way, but now He would explain matters to them more fully. For the site, He selected Caesarea Philippi, a town about twenty-five miles north of Bethsaida, sitting at the foot of beautiful Mount Hermon. The town was named after Augustus Caesar and Herod Philip, and it contained a marble temple dedicated to Augustus. It was a place dedicated to the glory of Rome, and that glory is now gone, but the glory of Jesus Christ remains and will go on eternally.
 
THE SURVEY
If you were to go around asking your friends, “What do people say about me?” they would take it as an evidence of pride. What difference does it really make what people think or say about us? We are not that important! But what people believe and say about Jesus Christ is important, for He is the Son of God and the only Savior of sinners.
 
HUMAN ANSWERS
Mark 8 I AMIt is remarkable the number of different opinions the people held about Jesus, though the same situation probably exists today. That some thought He was John the Baptist is especially perplexing, since John and Jesus had been seen publicly together. They were quite different in personality and ministry(Matt. 11:16–19), so it seems strange that the people would confuse them.
 
Some said that Jesus was one of the prophets, perhaps Jeremiah (Matt. 16:14). Jeremiah was “the weeping prophet,” and Jesus was a Man of Sorrows, so there is a definite parallel. Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
 
In His words and His works, Jesus gave every evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message. Instead of diligently seeking for the truth, the people listened to popular opinion and followed it, just as many people do today. They had opinions instead of convictions, and this is what led them astray.
 
Peter’s confession was bold and uncompromising, just as ours should be: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). The word Christ means “the Anointed One, the promised Messiah.”
 
Why did Jesus warn them to keep quiet about Him? For one thing, the disciples themselves still had much to learn about Him and what it truly meant to follow Him. The religious leaders of the nation had already made up their minds about Him, and to proclaim Him as Messiah now would only upset God’s plans. The common people wanted to see His miracles, but they had little desire to submit to His message. To announce Him as Messiah might well result in a political uprising that would only do harm.
 
Now that they had confessed their faith in Christ (but see John 6:66–71), the disciples were ready for the “secret” Jesus wanted to share with them: He was going with them to Jerusalem, where He would die on a cross. From this point on, Mark will focus on their journey to Jerusalem, and the emphasis will be on Jesus’ approaching death and resurrection (Mark 9:30–32; 10:32–34).
 
This announcement stunned the disciples. If He is indeed the Christ of God, as they had confessed, then why would He be rejected by the religious leaders? Why would these leaders crucify Him? Did not the Old Testament Scriptures promise that Messiah would defeat all their enemies and establish a glorious kingdom for Israel? There was something wrong somewhere and the disciples were confused.
 
Mark 8 youTrue to character, it was Peter who expressed their concern. One minute Peter was led by God to confess his faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:17), and the next minute he was thinking like an unbelieving man and expressing the thoughts of Satan! This is a warning to us that when we argue with God’s Word, we open the door for Satan’s lies. Peter began rebuking his Master, and Mark used the same word that describes our Lord’s rebuking of the demons (Mark 1:25; 3:12).
 
Peter’s protest was born out of his ignorance of God’s will and his deep love for his Lord. One minute Peter was a “rock,” and the next minute he was a stumbling block! Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said, “The man who loves Jesus, but who shuns God’s method, is a stumbling block to Him.” Peter did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. He would eventually learn this lesson and would even emphasize it in his first epistle (note 1 Peter 1:6–8; 4:13—5:10).
 
Note, however, that when Jesus rebuked Peter, He also “looked on his disciples,” because they agreed with Peter’s assessment of the situation! Steeped in Jewish traditional interpretation, they were unable to understand how their Messiah could ever suffer and die. To be sure, some of the prophets had written about Messiah’s sufferings, but much more had been written about Messiah’s glory. Some of the rabbis even taught that there would be two Messiahs, one who would suffer and one who would reign (see 1 Peter 1:10–12). No wonder the disciples were confused.
 
But the problem was more than theological; it was very practical. Jesus had called these men to follow Him, and they knew that whatever happened to Him would happen to them. If there was a cross in His future, there would be one in their future as well. That would be reason enough to disagree with Him! In spite of their devotion to Him, the disciples were still ignorant of the true relationship between the cross and the
crown. They were following Satan’s philosophy (glory without suffering) instead of God’s philosophy (suffering transformed into glory).
 
Which philosophy we accept will determine how we live and how we serve.
 
Jesus still asks us today, “Who do YOU say I AM? PAUSE, PRAY, ANSWER.
 
DEEPER STILL…
 
Mark 8:34 indicates that, though Jesus and His disciples had met in private, the crowds were not far away. Jesus summoned the people and taught them what He taught His own disciples: there is a price to pay for true discipleship. He knew that the crowds were following Him only because of the miracles, and that most of the people were unwilling to pay the price to become true disciples.
 
Jesus laid down three conditions for true discipleship:
(1) we must surrender ourselves completely to Him;
(2) we must identify with Him in suffering and death;
(3) we must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads. If we live for ourselves, we will lose ourselves, but if we lose ourselves for His sake and the gospel’s, we will find ourselves.
 
TAKE NOTE…
 
Denying self is not the same as self-denial. We practice self-denial when, for a good purpose, we occasionally give up things or activities. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will. This once-for-all dedication is followed by a daily “dying to self” as we take up the cross and follow Him. From the human point of view, we are losing ourselves, but from the divine perspective, we are finding ourselves. When we live for Christ, we become more like Him, and this brings out our own unique individuality.
 
OUR MOTIVATION…
The motivation for true discipleship: “for my sake and the gospel’s” (Mark 8:35). To lose yourself is not an act of desperation; it is an act of devotion. But we do not stop there: personal devotion should lead to practical duty, the sharing of the gospel with a lost world. “For my sake” could lead to selfish religious isolationism, so it must be balanced with “and the gospel’s.” Because we live for Him, we live for others.
 
Discipleship is a matter of profit and loss, a question of whether we will waste our lives or invest our lives.
Mark 8 the cross
Whew, as you can read, there is a lot to learn from Mark’s penning of the bottom line Truth of devoted followership of Jesus. We need to ask ourselves daily, “Who do YOU say I am” as a personal assessment of our belief, behaviors, motivation, intention and declaration of Who is sincerely in control of our lives. (Pray Romans 12! It helps me!)
 
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Here I am. Speak to my heart all day long and into the night. Cleanse me. Fill me. Use me. You are God and i am not.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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CAN YOU SEE?

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 8 first blurry step
Those of us of a certain age remember, vividly, gathering around our archaic TV sets to watch the adventure of men launching into space with the goal of landing on the moon. I remember the launch. I had just graduated from high school. I would soon make my own “launch” into college in the fall. What I would do with my own life was at the forefront of my mind with fears of the unknown looming before me. But this event made everyone in our country and around the world stop and pay attention, forgetting their own lives and circumstances for a while. Everyone who believed were praying for these brave men.
 
Mark 8 moon landingDaily, we were glued to our television sets to see the progress of this incredible journey. We literally stopped life to watch Neil Armstrong leave the protective conditions of his space craft. It was extremely blurry but we were excited to make out the form of a man descending the ladder. “Oh, wow, can you see him?” “Is that him?” “Wow, can you believe it?” “He’s really walking on the moon!” “Ooh, what does the moon really look like?” So much to see and take in. Our vision was blurry but we were excited to see what we could!
 
Mark 8 Jesus takes our hand
Can you imagine being blind one moment and then seeing the next? Can you imagine Jesus taking you by the hand to heal and restore you? This is even greater than walking on the moon!
 
Mark 8, NLT
Jesus Heals a Blind Man
 
Mark 8 blind and then22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
 
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
 
mark 8 open your eyes.jpg
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”
 
GOING DEEPER
 
Mark 8 blurryThe unique thing about this miracle of healing is that it occurred gradually and not instantly. The Gospels record the healing of at least seven blind men, and they show that our Lord used a variety of approaches. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of unbelief in Bethsaida that hindered Him (see Mark 6:5–6), or it may have been the spiritual condition of the man himself. For some reason not given, the man was not ready for instant sight, so Jesus restored him gradually. The fact that the man recognized men and trees suggests that he had not been born blind but had been blinded by accident or disease.
 
The man was not from Bethsaida, for Jesus sent him home and cautioned him not to enter that town. Now that he had been healed, why go to unbelieving Bethsaida where Jesus had been rejected? His job was to go home and spread the good news of the kingdom, and to demonstrate its power by showing others what Jesus had done for him (see Mark 2:11; 5:34; 10:52). Should he not give another opportunity to the people in Bethsaida? Perhaps they would believe if they heard how Jesus had restored his sight. No, Bethsaida had been given adequate evidence, but still had refused to believe. It is a dangerous thing for anybody to reject the message of God and harden his or her heart in unbelief.
 
Mark 8 25
The disciples learned some valuable lessons on this trip, lessons that they would need to remember and apply in later years of ministry. We today need to learn these same lessons; (1) don’t seek after signs, but live by faith in His Word; (2) trust Jesus to meet needs; (3) avoid the leaven of false doctrine; (4) let Jesus work as He wills, and expect variety in His working.
 
AS WE CONTINUE…
Mark recorded the events of some busy days in the ministry of God’s Servant! Next he will take us “behind the scenes” as the Servant instructs His disciples and prepares them for His death on the cross.
 
Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
Your Word continually takes us “behind the scenes” of your purpose and glory. We see blurry at first, then you open our eyes to more and more of Your Truth. We cannot take it in all at once, it seems, for Your thoughts are extremely higher than our thoughts. Thank you for being patient with us as we learn, step by step, your ways, will, and purpose for our lives. I love you, Lord with all that is in me. Continue to transform me. Help me to see clearly. Open my eyes. Open the eyes of my family and friends.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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HE SIGHED DEEPLY

Mark – God is On Our Side
 
Mark 8 exasperatedNothing deflates your spirit more than when we give multiple explanations in different ways to our kids, showing and telling them why they should do what we have asked them to do, and their response is “Huh?” After a deep sigh, we naturally raise our voice as we tell them again…for emphasis. Their response? “What are you mad?” They still don’t get it.
 
So, it is not too hard for us as parents, teachers and leaders to understand Jesus when He “sighed deeply in his spirit”. We’ve been there. We take heart, though, as parents and teachers because even Jesus had a hard time getting people to understand the deeper meaning of Who God is and what He wants. God is on our side! Get that, first. Love Him back with all our hearts, minds and souls. Only then will we begin to “get it”. When we believe, trust and obey, we discover we don’t need a “sign” that tells us God is on our side.
 
Mark 8, NLT
Pharisees Demand a Miraculous Sign
 
Mark 8 Jesus sighed11 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.
 
12 When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.” 13 So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.
 
Yeast of the Pharisees and Herod
Mark 8 not.jpg14 But the disciples had forgotten to bring any food. They had only one loaf of bread with them in the boat. 15 As they were crossing the lake, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”
 
16 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 17 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? 18 ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? 19 When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”
 
“Twelve,” they said.
 
20 “And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”
 
“Seven,” they said.
 
21 “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.
 
GOING DEEPER…
 
First, let’s take a deeper look at the previous miracle of feeding four thousand men and their families just before this conversation. Twelve baskets of fragments were left over after the five thousand were fed, but only seven baskets after the four thousand were fed. There were even two different lands of baskets used: for the five thousand, small wicker lunch baskets (kophinos), for the four thousand, large hampers, big enough to hold a man (spuris, see Acts 9:25).
 
Once again, we are encouraged by our Lord’s compassion and His complete control over the situation. However, we are discouraged by the blindness and unbelief of the disciples. Had they completely forgotten the previous miracle? Let’s not be too hard on them. How many times have we forgotten the mercies of the Lord? We need to remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is still the same and has the solution to every problem. All we need do is trust Him, give Him our all, and obey.
 
mark-8-pharisees.jpgJesus and the disciples crossed to the western side of the Sea of Galilee, where they were met by the Pharisees who were still angry at Him because of His earlier indictment of their hypocrisy (Mark 7:1–23). This time they tempted Him to prove His divine authority by giving them a sign from heaven. They did not want an earthly miracle, such as the healing of a sick person. They wanted Him to do something spectacular, like bring fire from heaven or bread from heaven (John 6:30–31). This would prove He was indeed sent from God.
 
Our Lord’s response was one of deep grief and disappointment (see Mark 7:34). How tragic that the religious leaders of God’s chosen people should be so hardhearted and spiritually blind! Their desire for a sign from heaven was but another evidence of their unbelief, for faith does not ask for signs. True faith takes God at His Word and is satisfied with the inward witness of the Spirit.
 
Jesus left them and crossed to the east side of the Sea of Galilee, and en route taught His disciples an important spiritual lesson. It appears that they were almost as blind as the Pharisees! The men were having a private discussion about their food supply, because somebody had forgotten to pack bread. Who was to blame?
 
Mark 8 breadIt must have grieved Jesus that His hand-picked helpers were so spiritually obtuse. The fact that He had multiplied bread on two occasions and fed over ten thousand people had apparently made little impression on them! Why worry and argue over one loaf of bread when you have Jesus in the boat with you? Their minds were dull, their hearts were hard (see Mark 6:52), their eyes were blind, and their ears were deaf (see Mark 4:11–12).
 
God’s people often have a tendency to forget His blessings (Ps. 103:1–2). He meets our needs, but then when the next problem arises, we complain or become frightened. As long as we are with Him, we can be sure He will care for us. It would do us all good to pause occasionally and remind ourselves of His goodness and faithfulness.
 
But the main lesson had to do with leaven (yeast) and not with bread. In the Bible, leaven is consistently a symbol of evil. Each Passover season, the Jews had to remove all leaven from their dwellings (Ex. 12:18–20), and leaven was not allowed with the offerings (Ex. 23:18; 34:25; Lev. 2:11; 6:17). Evil, like leaven, is small and hidden, but it spreads and soon infects the whole (Gal. 5:9).
 
The Bible uses leaven as a picture of false doctrine (Gal. 5:1–9), unjudged sin in the church (1 Cor. 5), and hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). In this context, Jesus warned them about the teaching (false doctrine) of the Pharisees and the followers of Herod. The Pharisees “said but they did not”; in other words, they practiced and encouraged hypocrisy (note Mark 7:6). The Herodians were a worldly group who catered to Herod, accepted the Roman way of life, and saw in Herod and his rule the promised kingdom for the Jewish nation. If this false teaching got into the hearts and minds of the disciples, it would infect them and pollute the truth Jesus had given them to proclaim about Himself and His kingdom.
 
mark 8 a signWe can never be too careful about detecting and avoiding false doctrine. Only a small deviation from the Word may get into an individual or a church, but before long it will grow and infect everything. Our Lord did not often say “Beware!” but when He did, it was important!
 
Listen to God. Ask for clarity. Don’t assume. Dig deeper. Ask God what HE wants for HE is on our side.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for ways to go deeper into your word so we won’t become dull and worse yet, polluted by the “yeast” of deceit that can worm it’s way into Your Truth. Thank you for Your Word that is Truth. Thank you for be patient with us as we learn to “get it”. May we continue to be teachable. I pray I can avoid your deep sigh when I don’t get it, but I know you will help me understand when I ask. I love you, Lord with all my heart, mind and soul. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in my life so that I can be all you intended for me to be. I’m not there yet, but with your help I am farther than I was yesterday. Continue to transform me.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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MORE THAN ENOUGH

Mark – God is On Our Side!
 
Mark 8 more than enough
There are two types of “servers” I have experienced in my life. Those who give all they have and more and those who give only in portions according to what they think they can give.
Most of us have that grandma who taught us to provide more than enough food for the family at their table of goodness. I was blessed with two grandmas who thought this way and who passed down this way of thinking to succeeding generations. We always had leftovers of fried chicken and all the “fixings” that was enjoyed the next day if you stayed overnight on the farm. One pie was never enough–make three. One desert wasn’t enough, provide a buffet of choices. One salad will never do, provide different kinds. You get the picture. This is still practiced at our family gatherings!
 
Mark 8 small mealGrowing up like this I was amazed as a young parent when one relative of Randy’s hosted a meal for our family of five with a different train of thought altogether. She would fix small, cereal size bowls of one vegetable, one piece of meat for all of us, and maybe one dessert for all to share. Mm, I thought as we ate, this is different. Maybe she doesn’t like leftovers. She had plenty to share and was not poor. When the meal was consumed and all the plates and bowls were emptied, she would reply, “Ah, just right. I fixed just enough for all.”
 
Aren’t you glad God doesn’t think or work like that? He meets our needs and more! He doesn’t say, “ah, just enough”. He always provides more than enough for our salvation, our care, our protection along with mounds of unconditional love, mercy and grace! He provides more than enough for us to share with others! His blessings are more than we can imagine or dream. He is God and we are not. God is on our side!
 
Watch God work as Jesus provides more than enough food for another crowd who has spent three days with Him, listening to Him speak into their hearts, minds and souls.
 
Mark 8, NLT
Jesus Feeds Four Thousand
 
Mark 8 breadAbout this time another large crowd had gathered, and the people ran out of food again. Jesus called his disciples and told them, 2 “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”
 
4 His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”
 
5 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
 
“Seven loaves,” they replied.
 
Mark 8 leftovers!6 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd. 7 A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them.
 
8 They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. 9 There were about 4,000 men in the crowd that day, and Jesus sent them home after they had eaten. 10 Immediately after this, he got into a boat with his disciples and crossed over to the region of Dalmanutha.
 
Don’t you love how God works?! Follow the question and direction of Jesus to his disciples and to the crowd.
 
1. What do you have? Seven loaves of bread.
2. Jesus thanks God for the bread.
3. Jesus’ “servers” pass out what has been given.
4. In the process, a few fish are found and given, maybe as a result of seeing the miracle of bread multiplying?
5. Fish are blessed and served.
6. All ate as much as they wanted.
7. SEVEN large basket of leftovers were picked up!
 
God always provides more than enough for all who believe. Watch God work today. Pray expectantly and watch Him work in our lives. God is in the details as well as the demanding challenges of life.
 
Be a servant of God who gives more than enough, more than is required by world standards, by the power and direction of Jesus living in us.
 
mark-8-jesus-is.jpg“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
 
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
 
Mark 8 enoughNow all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
(Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT)
 
All Your promises are YES and AMEN!
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe!
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